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October 04 , 2010

A Weekend at Blenheim

A Novel


In this enthralling and atmospheric tale of murder, revenge and redemption, a young American struggles to make sense of a world he does not understand, where the price of acceptance may be murder.

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A TRIP TO THE CIRCUS STIRS THE BOYS’ SENSES—AND SUSPICIONS. Frank, Joe, and their friends head to Philadelphia to catch a performance of Aerocirque, an amazing circus act with a twist: The acrobats swing and flip from helicopters high in the air! But all is not well in the City of Brotherly Love. The other show in town is a series…

John Vanbrugh is an outsider in the England of 1905: A determined but unsuccessful American architect, he has moved to London to make a new life for himself and his wife, Margaret. When he receives an unexpected summons to meet the dazzling Duchess of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace, he is skeptical.

The young duchess, Vanbrugh comes to understand, has her reasons. Like him, she is American-born: Consuelo Vanderbilt, one of the richest debutantes in America. Seemingly on impulse, the duchess hires Vanbrugh to renovate her rooms at Blenheim - a plum job Vanbrugh accepts. He and his wife join the weekend party at Blenheim, a group that includes the foul-tempered duke; his young cousin Winston Churchill; the society painter John Singer Sargent; the duchess' mother and American suffragette Mrs. O.H.P.Belmont; Gladys Deacon, an American friend of the duchess'; and the enigmatic Catholic Monsignor Vay de Vaya.

Almost as soon as he begins work at Blenheim, Vanbrugh uncovers a series of unsettling letters that hint at a long-concealed deceit. As he tries to grasp the meaning of this discovery, a sketchbook owned by Sargent is stolen and a young housemaid is found in the courtyard, strangled. It is then that Vanbrugh realizes he is caught in a maze of duplicity and manipulation with no way out. Struggling to uncover the treachery he sees around him, Vanbrugh is forced to re-evaluate everything he thought about Blenheim, himself, even the very nature of truth.

Part mystery, part gothic morality tale, A Weekend at Blenheim is a compelling, mesmerizing, deeply satisfying novel.

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